I’m a dingbat.


I end up in completely avoidable situations such as going on dates when I don’t intend to, unwittingly put my bare bottom on display, and I have this nagging need to be vocal about my feelings when I’ve been drinking. In fact, I’m not even cut out for compassion. I try to be benevolent and do the right thing, but you know where that always leaves, me. In the middle of the road, clutching a thankless scarf.

Anyway. A few days ago, I stepped out of the house to buy stuff from a market that’s always infested with cars, scooters, bikes, and far too many people. I parked a little further away inside a hospital, to save myself the horror of having to wade through the said market.

As I was stepping out of the hospital, I walked past a stinky old lady with one of her arms in a cast wearing garish, hanuman-like, orange clothes, her face full of pockmarks. Her daughter (?) was arguing with a rickshawallah.

Tees, she said as she wiped the sweat from her neck. Thirty rupees.

Typical, I thought to myself. They will argue endlessly with a poor rickshaw puller for what, ten bucks? Look at the old man, toiling in the sun all day long. How can anyone put a price tag on physical labor? If he wants more, pay him more or move along!

I waddled like a buffalo, deliberately taking pains to walk slower than normal in an attempt to prolong my alone time – it’s hard to come by!

I bought what I had to, and stopped at multiple fruit stalls just to check if fruit cost less in this area than where I live and pissed off a lot of fruit vendors in the process – lena nahin tha to itna mol bhaav kyon kiya? If you didn’t want to buy, why did you haggle?

After about 20 minutes, I found myself back where I started – the old lady and her daughter (?) were still there. Bhaiya, chand saleema chaloge, she said. Will you take us to Chand Cinema? The compassionate mother in me reared her head. This was my chance to redeem myself, my good deed for the day. Their destination was enroute to mine.

Aapko Chand Cinema jaana hai? Main us taraf hi ja rahi hoon. I offered to drop them off at Chand Cinema on my way home.

They exchanged a look that was somewhere between can-this-woman-be-trusted or omg-I-can’t-believe-we’re-so-lucky. They agreed.

I dumped all my stuff on Z’s car seat in the back, and helped the old lady in. Her daughter (?) joined me in the front.

I asked how long they had been standing there, and the old lady told me the story of their life. She had slipped and fallen in the bathroom, and her daughter (aha!) brought her here because it was a bigger hospital than the one in their locality. Now they were trying to go back but no auto or rickshawallah was willing to go that far unless they paid a premium. She thought she’d have to walk back, but then I came to their rescue, which was a surprise, because aajkal to sab bahut khudgarz hote hain, koi madad kare bhi to uska bharosa karna mushkil lagta hai. Everyone’s so selfish these days, it’s hard to really trust anyone.

The old lady gave me a lot of free advice – you shouldn’t trust anyone immediately. Who knows what people are up to? Hum to ladies hain, koi aadmi bhi ho sakta tha. We’re women (and therefore it’s ok for you to help us), but it could’ve been a man (and men are untrustworthy in general). She shut up only when her daughter turned to frown at her. I was really really (really) thankful when that happened.

Anyway. I dropped them off at chand saleema. The old woman thanked me a hundred times for being such a good human being, and I tried my best to remain humble.

I drove home feeling really good about myself – the (miniscule) sliver of guilt that I had had when I left home was gone. I parked the car and got out with a swagger, kinda feeling like I was Katrina Kaif in #KalaChashma. (That song has been stuck in my head for a month.)

I was so engrossed I walked a few steps toward my building, then realized I had forgotten all about my stuff.

Only, when I opened the door, there was nothing to pick up.

Yup. I’m a dingbat.

Have you been through anything like this? Have you spent hours on the phone trying to block stolen cards and been pissed about it? When was the last time you stole anything?

of tails that wag

When I first moved in with Mister, Sugar would greet me every morning with a happy wag of the tail and a cursory but tell-tale lick on the hand. She would wait in the room until I got out of bed, and then proceed to follow me around as I carefully avoided reading the newspaper. She would wait patiently for me to pet her. I would often sit on the floor, resting my back on the ugly-ass black leatherite sofa in the living room, and Sugar would promptly sit down next to me, touching me just a little bit.

She’d growl if I got up before I finished my tea. She’d whimper if I ate before passing on a morsel of whatever it was I was eating to her. She’d follow me around like a puppy, because she became one when she was with me. She was having fun, being in the here-and-now.

Now, she’s eleven. She has cataracts in her eyes and no energy in her body. All she can manage to do in the morning is walk up to my bedroom and crumple in a heap near the door. She doesn’t lick me or wag her tail anymore, or whimper or growl at me for not giving her attention. She just drags her feet trying to be in the same room. He favorite treat, ice-cream, goes untouched. Now, I’m no longer sure if she’s enjoying the here-and-now so much.

We recently had her uterus removed. And then, right after her surgery, we discovered that there was a tumor in her breast. We don’t know if it’s cancerous yet, but what if it is? The doctor says she may not make it, and it may be kinder to “put her down”.

Most of my life I thought – hell, I knew I was against euthanasia. Not on religious grounds – because god knows I’m not religious at all; but because I don’t think it’s ethical. And here I am, entertaining the thought that maybe Sugar would be better off dead than dying. It seems, suddenly, the more humane thing to do.

But is it ok to even consider euthanasia just because we’re talking about a dog and not a human being? A pet, however old, is still like a baby – completely dependent on us human beings for their survival, unable to speak their minds, unable to give consent.

I wouldn’t request a doctor to put down a terminally ill baby, so why Sugar? What makes it ok for me as a human being to assume superiority over a being not even from my own species?

Have you ever been faced with this situation? What would you do?